autobiography Blog comic book

pre-order issue 1 or subscribe

The long wait is finally over! Issue 1 of Falling Rock National Park, the comic book, is at the printer. 20 pages of sheer comic goodness, plus an extended contribution from my friend (and HUUUGE Indiana Jones fan) Reid. And a color cover. See:


You can pre-order Issue 1 right here for $4. Or, if you’d like Issues 1-4 delivered direct to your door, you can subscribe for the low price of $20. Again, here’s that link.

I’m very excited to share the next phase of Falling Rock with you all!

Blog fiction history

daniel webster: boogeyman

Longtime readers of this here blog will remember that John McLoughlin, Father of Oregon, was an infamous boogeyman. McLoughlin was not the only man of historical note to be a boogeyman.

Daniel Webster served in both the US Congress and Senate. He was Secretary of State. He was known by political allies and opponents alike as being the best speaker to ever grace the hallowed Capitol halls. Daniel Webster was also a boogeyman.
daniel websterWebster would finish a long day in the House with a quick trip to the pub, where he’d rehash the news of the day with his colleagues. Then he would discreetly adjourn, citing husbandly obligations, sneak to the nearest orphanage, and devour a few children.

Daniel Webster, boogeyman, did not need rest. Boogeymen get their energy from the blood of the young. They snatch children from their beds -straight from their beds! – and tear them apart in the bushes outside the family’s house. The parents have no idea that their precious little angel is becoming the next meal for the esteemed Congressman from Massachusetts.

Everybody seems concerned with “boogeymen” like nuclear war, global warming, Obama taking away their guns. Nobody is talking about the real Boogeyman who is lurking outside their bedroom window. The real Boogeyman is most likely laughing so hard drool is falling from his accursed jaws while the distracted parents are watching PBS Newshour.

Webster protected himself and his kind by surreptitiously enacting pro-Boogeyman laws and including favorable language into totally unrelated bills. He was such a skilled hand that the bedrock of this country, the Constitution itself, is a Boogeyman protection document. A Boogeyman can steal your children and devour them at will, and the Supreme Court can do nothing but sit back and watch the spectacle. Chief Justice John Roberts (himself a known swamp monster) has been quoted as saying, “when the United States of America is rid of all Boogeymen, there can be no United States of America.” That’s how intertwined we are.

Is there nothing you and I can do to save our children from these clawed monsters of the night? Unfortunately, no. We must come to terms with the cold hard truth: this is a country run by Boogeymen, for Boogeymen.

As you tuck your loved ones into bed tonight, remember this: Daniel Webster the statesman might have died 161 years ago when the country was on the brink of Civil War. But Daniel Webster the boogeyman is still alive, keeping to back roads and taking shelter in abandoned housing developments. He is hungry. He is coming.
old daniel webster

autobiography Blog comic book comic con

welcome back to falling rock

issue-1-cover-joshshalekThe wait is almost over. The first issue of Falling Rock National Park, the comic book, is headed to the printer.

As longtime readers know, my comic strip Welcome to Falling Rock National Park ended in May of 2012. I made the hard decision to change formats. Although I love comic strips, newspapers are all but extinct. I cannot compete with both legacy strips (that is, comic strips drawn by the grandchildren of legendary cartoonists) and the shrinking marketplace. Webcomics are wonderful, but I always wanted to be in print. I grew up reading comics in print and so that was my goal.
Rather than mope about like a boozy novelist, I set about determining what people are reading in print nowadays. Many of my cartoonist friends have been self-publishing comic book series with great critical (and, once in a while, commercial) success. The comic book is the most vital format today. It has the serialized nature I love about comic strips, but allows for much more diversity in terms of storytelling.

The first issue costs $4 and will be available by the end of February. I’ll soon post a link on my Buy Books page and I’ll have it with me when I head to Emerald City in March, Stumptown in April, San Diego ComicCon in July, and Tucson ComicCon in November. (More dates TBD!) There will also be a subscription for Falling Rock National Park – $20 for four issues (includes postage). Subscribe if you want to have new issues mailed directly to you the instant they get back from the printer!

That’s all the news so far! I’ll let you know when the first issue is ready to be read.

Blog friday robot

friday robots on easter island


I painted this watercolor in high school. I was really into those crazy Easter Island heads back then. When I found this painting recently it looked unfinished. I first tried overlaying an ink outline, also done in brush so as not to detract from the overall aesthetic.
easter-island-joshshalek-ink-outlineThis was nice, but it still seemed to be lacking something. Something…robotic. So I made turned an old watercolor into this week’s Friday Robots!
friday-robots-1-25-13Have a great weekend everybody!

autobiography Blog

psychedelic astronaut

When I committed to riding my scooter Vesper Lynd through the Portland winter, I knew I’d need the right gear. It wasn’t until mid-December 2011 that I realized my waterproof shell trousers and fleece/waterproof shell jacket combo was not going to get me through. Portland’s winters, although relatively mild when compared to, say, northern Ohio, can still get quite chill. Temperatures in the upper 30’s and lower 40’s, braved on a bike going 40 MPH could shrivel my hands into blackened frostbitten claws. My torso might be dry upon arrival at my destination, but it might also be blue and racked with convulsive shivering. And so, like the great northern expeditions of old, I headed to the Columbia store to acquire the intense deep winter coverings I desperately needed.

What I came out with is something I’ve taken to describing as my psychedelic astronaut suit. The bright yellow color helps me be seen in the dark December days, when sunlight makes but a cameo. The jacket, a fine Columbia Titanium product, is comprised of two layers – an outer, water- and wind-proof shell and an inner heat-trapping down layer. The pants are Mountain Hardware ski pants, made for all day in the snow and cold.
Combined with the Columbia Omniheat gloves that keep my precious hands from freezing and falling off my arms, I have built what may be the perfect winter scooter ensemble. It got me through the winter of ‘11-’12 and is delivering me through the ’12-’13 winter. I arrive to work every morning warm and dry.

The suit may be as high tech as Iron Man’s. I certainly feel like Robert Downey, Jr. as I scoot around town. Like the superhero, I feel more powerful while wearing the suit.

So if you see a psychedelic spaceman scooting around town, don’t rub your eyes. It is not an illusion. I exist. I ride on.psychedelic-astronaut3

Blog friday robot

friday robots

This week’s robots come straight out of the mind of my 3 year old nephew Aidan. Aidan is still too young to know about intellectual property, so I’m just gonna steal his good ideas until he’s 5 or 6.


The original is a dinosaur with a blue shirt. Mine is a robot with lasers coming out of the side of its head. Both, I believe, are equally valid.


Friday robot 1-18-13

autobiography Blog comic

from the sketchbook: raymond’s rabbits

In the fall of 2000 I headed for northern Scotland. Nothing was going to stop me. I spent the next three months doing what is known in some circles as “studying abroad.” It was here that I met Slider K. Shaftacular and was saved from eating pasta alone every night in my flat. Our adventures are the subject of another post, though. This post is about the comic strip I attempted to run in the Aberdeen University newspaper.

I had been drawing Atticus and Glen in my college’s weekly paper for the past year and a half. I wasn’t sure whether I’d be able to ‘get’ Aberdeen quickly enough to draw a comic strip about that college, so I attempted a less ambitious story about a weird kid who liked rabbits.

I drew up two strips and took them to the newspaper’s office, located in the basement of an academic building. (Why are newspaper offices always located in the basement of buildings? That seems to be the case with every college paper I’ve encountered.) My plan was to see if they ran before I drew more. Although the guy I talked to was quite friendly, the paper ended up running neither strip and I never heard back from the newspaper, so these are the only two episodes of Raymond’s Rabbits.

When I found these recently I remembered drawing them in my small dark flat. I had been drawing Atticus and Glen as a two row (usually 8-panel) comic and it was fun to draw the classic 3- or 4-panel comic strip I knew I always wanted to do. This was also the last time I tried drawing my strips this small. They are about 10 inches wide by 4 inches tall – not really enough room to get the detail or line quality I like. The next semester I began drawing Atticus and Glen on full sheets of 11 x 14 Bristol board. The boost in drawing quality was immediately apparent.

What would have become of Raymond and his rabbit friends had the comic continued? That is one of the many mysteries of my life. My sketchbooks are full of corridors untraveled. Perhaps one day, when I am very old and wise, I will revisit Raymond and figure out exactly what his deal is.

Blog friday robot

friday robots plus

This week’s Friday Robots are a combination of Tucson, Arizona and Forest Park right here in Portland, Oregon.
friday robots 1-11-13
And just for kicks, here’s a girl in a bathing suit. She was in a French movie from the 60’s. French movies about girls in bathing suits are highly recommended by me.


Blog comic

TacoCopter CHAPTER 4

TacoCopter is back! The fourth chapter of the TacoCopter Saga delves more deeply into TacoCopter’s psyche. He has reached an existential impasse. Will he wallow forever in self-doubt? Hardly. TacoCopter shows us that even drones have dreams.

If you’d like to catch up:
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3

And now, on to Chapter 4…

tacocopter-CH4-1 tacocopter-CH4-2 tacocopter-CH4-3 tacocopter-CH4-4 tacocopter-CH4-5 tacocopter-CH4-6 tacocopter-CH4-7 tacocopter-CH4-8 tacocopter-CH4-9

Blog friday robot

friday robots wish you were here

friday robots 1-4-13The first robots of the New Year may look familiar to Pink Floyd fans.
That is my hand shaking the robot hand.
I had to be careful because that robot had a strong grip.